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This is Baghdad. What could be worse?

Her first grandchild, 2-month-old Fahd, sat next to her. His expression was rare in Baghdad: eyes expectant, fearless.

"Is it not a pity to bring a baby in a world like this?" she asked. "It's a shame."

Her eldest daughter, Fatima, looked on.

"One-third of us are dying, one-third of us are fleeing and one-third of us will be widows," she said.

"This is Iraq," Karima added.

The last time I had visited Faruq Saad Eddin, he and his wife, Muna, had argued over whether their eldest son should have left the country. We sat in Jihad, a neighborhood so dangerous now that a stranger risks death by entering it. A generator droned in the background; occasional bomb blasts thundered in the distance, probably homemade mines targeting U.S. patrols. An urbane former diplomat, Faruq had been upset. He worried about what would become of his ancient land if its capable fled.

"You can't just cut out and run away," he told me. "This is our country and sooner or later our children will come back. The resilience of the people, that's what 11,000 years means," he said. "Someone who has 11,000 years, 100 years to lose here or there is not that much."

On April 17, Faruq and Muna left Iraq at the insistence of their son, who had paid a year's rent for an apartment in Jordan. A month later, a car bomb detonated outside their Baghdad home, shattering the windows in the room where we once had shared bitter coffee.

On a cool morning in the Amman neighborhood of Umm al-Summaq, Faruq shook his head at the arbitrariness of fate.

"We would have been killed, no doubt about it," he said.

"We are all stranded, here and there, Iraqis," he added.

A friend once compared the elderly who are reluctant to leave Baghdad to the blind. Take them away from the familiarity of their home, garden and street, and they become lost and disoriented. Faruq has sought new routines: morning strolls, e-mails to friends, a voracious appetite for news and late-night updates on his favorite baseball team, the St. Louis Cardinals. His apartment overlooked the rolling hills of Amman, glowing in the morning's soft sun; his granddaughter Mayasa played giddily next to him with a stuffed toy.


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